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Homicide Detective Makes the Case for Faith

Author Jim Warner Wallace discusses why Christians need to make a case for Christ based on evidence. Read Transcript


Jim Warner Wallace has spent his career building cases.

As a former homicide detective, his job

was to investigate the evidence and draw a conclusion

based on those facts.

Now Jim is encouraging fellow Christians

to build a case for the faith.

And he's equipping them with the evidence they need.

NARRATOR: Jim Warner Wallace is a cold case homicide

detective and a former atheist.

JIM WARNER WALLACE: If you'd told me that I was a sinner,

I would have laughed at you.

I know what sinners look like.

They're the folks I take to jail.

That's not me.

I'm a good guy.

NARRATOR: But when Jim started checking out the Bible

the same way he investigated a case,

the evidence couldn't have been any clearer.

JIM WARNER WALLACE: So I was willing to take a step with it

and start to examine it as an eyewitness account.

NARRATOR: In his book "Forensic Faith," Jim makes the case

for Christians to be case makers for Christ

and why it's vital to do so right now.

Jim Warner Wallace is with us now.

And, Jim, we welcome you back to "The 700 Club."

Thanks for having me.

I so appreciate it.

Good to see you.

Good to be here.

Jim, I can't believe it, but you were a former atheist.


What was the one piece of evidence

that convinced you that God is real and that Jesus is His son?

You know, it's hard for me because I never usually build

a case on one piece.

If you do that and that one piece happens to be wrong

or you go to court later and they're able to knock it down,

you're kind of left flat footed.

So I'm a cumulative case guy.

I'm the kind of person who builds this case around 80

pieces of evidence that point.

So, for me, it was hard to come to faith that way.

I spent six months, you know, scanning

through the scriptures, looking at the history

of the first century, trying to make a case for why

this was true cumulatively.

And, in the end, I was just overwhelmed with how

reliable the eyewitness accounts.

So I guess, if there's one thing that struck me,

it was that every way we test eyewitnesses

in criminal trials, if you applied that same template

to the authors of the gospels, they pass the test.

And when I saw that happening right before my eyes, I said,

OK, it's time for me to make a decision about Jesus.

WENDY GRIFFITH: Well, in your book "Forensic Faith,"

you talk about the difference between accidental

versus evidential belief.

What are the differences between those?


So I'm a Californian, OK?

If you ask me, tell me about California,

what year was it founded, I really can't tell you.

If you ask me how many square miles, I can't.

How many counties?

I can't.

How do you pass a bill?

What's the state tree?

I couldn't answer any of these questions.

But I was born in California.

Now, a lot of my Christian friends

are Christians the way that I'm a Californian.

They may have been raised in the faith--

they're in the right place--

but if you ask them any details about why

they think it's the right place, they

may not be able to answer them with anything other

than their own experience.

Now, that also works for my friends

who are Mormons and Buddhists and Muslims.

All of us have an experience that we can point to.

The question is, do we have any good evidence

to suggest that we're in the right place?

And that's what we're trying to do with "Forensic Faith."

And why is it so important for this generation of Christians

to be able to defend their faith with not just, well,

you know, my parents were Christians

or I go to church, but really with real evidence?


Let's face it.

We're a place right now where the culture

says we've got objectively true things

about identity, about marriage, about all kinds of things.

And they want to make the case scientifically

as an objective truth claim.

Meanwhile, we hold what seems to be subjective opinions

about religion.

And any time objective truths meet subjective opinions,

be ready to get run over by the bus.

And so what we're trying to say is, no,

this is actually an objectively true claim about something that

happened in the first century-- the Resurrection of Jesus--

that stands up against all evidential scrutiny

and deserves a place at the table of world view ideas,

that this is actually something that you could possess.

Look, young people are leaving the church in record numbers.

But we could stop that.

We at least could address that.

If young people want to leave because they just

want to chase their passions, I get it.

But if they're leaving because they

don't think it's objectively true,

then it's on us as their elder brothers

and sisters in the church to be able to demonstrate to them

why it is true and why, eventually, you

will be back here with us.

You will return with us because, in the end,

it's hard to avoid the truth.

So you encourage Christians to take a simple test.

What are the questions that you ask?

Well, I've loaded the test, right?

I've kind of loaded the test in a way that I see online.

And the kind of atheism we're seeing online

is very aggressive, you know?

If you believe there's a God who created everything, well,

who created your God?

It's simple questions.

You know, if there's an all-loving God--

WENDY GRIFFITH: Of course, if we can answer that,

then we are God.

Well, of course.

But we have to be able to answer it in some way

that it really kind of knocks down the objection

and is satisfying even personally.

If someone says to you, well, if there's

an all-loving, all-powerful God, why is there

so much evil in the world?

Either He's not all loving-- doesn't care to stop it--

or He's not all powerful and He can't stop it.

But if you believe He's all powerful and all loving, why

doesn't He stop it?

WENDY GRIFFITH: How do you answer that question?

Well, I think a lot of it comes down

to our definition of evil.

Why do we think that anything is evil to begin with?

What standard are we applying to talk about true evil?

Are you suggesting there's a true standard of righteousness

by which we could judge something?

But what would that true standard be?

It turns out you need God as the true standard of righteousness

before you could call anything evil to begin with.

Evil is not evidence against God.

It requires God in order to talk about it rationally.

So I think we have to be able to prepare ourselves to answer

these kinds of questions.

I think it could have either an unreasonable faith--

which is really against the evidence that exists,

we don't have that kind of faith--

or you could have a blind faith.

You know, do you even know what the evidence is?

Or you could have a forensic faith

that is prepared to answer the question.

WENDY GRIFFITH: This is interesting.

You say that the most important aspect of a criminal trial

isn't the opening or closing arguments,

but it's picking the jury.

I know.

Why is that the most important?

Isn't that sad?

It's not in the opening statement.

It's not in the closing arguments.

It's not even in the evidence show.

We win trials at jury selection.

If you don't pick the right 12 people, your four alternates--

we're looking for 16 people who will actually be unbiased

and will look at this fairly.

WENDY GRIFFITH: And what does that have to do with, you know,


Well, the same thing is true for us.

If you divide the entire world, there

are people who are opposed to the prosecutor and people

who are opposed to the defense attorney.

The prosecutor does not want any people

who are opposed to him in the box and the defense attorney.

We have the same situation as Christians.

There are people who are against our world view

and people who are open to our world view.

And once you identify the differences,

it will change the way you approach them.

There are some people we don't even put on a jury

because we know they would never be fair.

And there are times when we have to pray for people who are not

yet ready to be on our jury because God has not yet moved

them into the curious position.

They're still anti theist.

They're against God.

And those kinds of people I will spend time with,

but I spend more time in prayer and more time modeling

for that juror than I would for jurors who are already open.

WENDY GRIFFITH: Jim, you were a cold case homicide detective.

That means you went and found the cases that nobody

was looking at anymore.

And you were an atheist.

What was it that was going on in your life at that time

that you said, there's got to be more?


was somebody who was wanting to go to church.

And she was also not a believer.

But she was more willing than I was.

And when we got to church, the pastor

pitched Jesus on that particular day, as God would have it.

He pitched Jesus as the smartest man who ever lived.

That's what he said about Him.

And that made me very curious.

So I bought a Bible and began this investigation.

And that's what changed my life.


And your father is also a detective or was a detective.


And my son is now on the force, as well.

So we have three generations of Jim Wallace all worked

at the same agency since 1961.


So how should Christians respond when an unbeliever says,

OK, you know, I believe what you're saying.

That may be true, but I'll never believe

because Christians are just a bunch of hypocrites and bigots.


Well, of course we're hypocrites.

I mean, who would be more of a hypocrite than a Christian?

But let's put it this way.

As a non-Christian, I didn't have

a standard anyone was aware of that I was trying to meet.

As a Christian, I have a standard.

And you all know who He is.

He's Jesus of Nazareth.

Now, once you have a visible, highest-level standard,

you will always fall short of it.

So I would expect that, first of all, all of us

are hypocrites in some way.

But of all people, I think we are probably

more likely to be seen as hypocrites

only because we joyfully hold up the standard of Jesus

for our own lives.

Now, I could avoid being a hypocrite.

Let me tell you how I do it--

have no standard.

So those of us who have no standards cannot fail to meet

their standards.

Those of us who have a high standard

will often fail to meet it.

Thank God for His grace, new mercies every day,

and the blood of Jesus, right?

That's right.

That's right.

Well, this is a fascinating book, "Forensic Faith."

Some are comparing it to C.S. Lewis' "Mere Christianity"--


That's way over the top.

--as I'm sure you've heard.

In fact, that book helped me so much.


In my mid 20s, that took me from, you know,

seeking to full-on believer.

One of the very first apologetics books I read was

C.S. Lewis.

So if you've read "Mere Christianity,"

you might want to pick up this, "Forensic Faith,"

the fascinating book.

It's in stores nationwide.

Jim Warner Wallace, thanks so much for being here.

Thanks for having me.

I appreciate you.

Thanks for what you're doing.

God bless you.


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